Ticks

Introduction | Causes & Prevention | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Test | Treatment Options

Ticks

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Introduction

Treating Threadworm Infection (Strongyloidosis)
Threadworms usually can be treated with standard de-wormers on an outpatient basis. Another name for de-wormers is "anthelmintics." Some medications that reportedly are effective against Strongyloides stercoralis include fenbendazole (Panacur), thiabendazole and ivermectin, among others. Not all of these are labeled for this use. These drugs can have potentially severe side effects. For example, ivermectin is not recommended for use in dogs that have tested positive for heartworm. In addition, many dogs are hyper-sensitive to ivermectin, including Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs and some other herding breeds. Ivermectin should not be used in those breeds.

The dog's attending veterinarian is the only one who should recommend an appropriate de-wormer or other treatment in any given case and advise the owner on the correct dosage and duration of treatment. If the dog has become dehydrated as a result of a threadworm infection, its veterinarian may advise that it be supplemented with intravenous fluids until proper hydration has been reestablished.

Prognosis
The prognosis for most dogs infected with threadworms is usually very good, provided that appropriate treatment is administered for the proper length of time. Most veterinarians recommend repeating fresh fecal examinations monthly for up to 6 months, to be sure that the infection has been completely cleared. Unfortunately, the outlook for young animals that develop pneumonia and/or severe bloody diarrhea is guarded.

Causes & Prevention

Causes of Tick Infestation of Dogs
Dogs pick up ticks from the environment and less frequently from other animals. Different ticks live in different geographical areas. Ticks tend to be attracted to dogs by warmth, physical contact and odors, among other things.

Preventing Ticks Infestation of Dogs
There are a number of commercial topical preventatives that are quite effective in managing ticks in companion dogs. Your veterinarian can recommend these products to you. Of course, avoiding outdoor areas that harbor ticks is an excellent way to reduce the risk of infection. Certain vaccines are available for some diseases caused by tick-born organisms, such as Lyme's disease.

Special Notes
Ticks can parasitize many mammals, including people. They should be physically removed from affected animals as quickly as possible. The so-called "tick feeding cavity" should be cleaned with soap and water, or other solutions as recommended by your veterinarian, to reduce the risk of local inflammation and infection. The prognosis for dogs that have been parasitized by ticks is very good, so long as effective measures are taken to prevent re-exposure and re-infection.

Symptoms & Signs

Introduction
Symptoms of ticks in dogs include the more obvious symptom of the presence of ticks on the dog, and symptoms which can be difficult to associate with ticks such as fever, skin irritations, and even paralysis. Sadly, the diagnosis of tick diseases may also be the only recognizable symptom of the presence of a tick, at some time, on the dog.

Symptoms of Ticks in Dogs
Ticks often cause symptoms on the skin which cause owners to take a close look at the cause of the symptoms. Once ticks latch onto the skin, they can cause severe itchiness in addition to red and inflamed skin. Dogs which are allergic to ticks may have especially severe skin itch and inflammation symptoms. Pet owners may also notice ticks on their dog once the tick becomes bloated after feeding on the dog and large enough to see.

Reactions to tick bites may also cause internal symptoms to develop. Many dogs experience mild to high fevers, loss of appetite, pain, lethargy, and depression as a reaction to tick bites. These symptoms may last as short as 24 hours or continue for days to weeks.

Ticks may also transmit blood borne disease they are carrying once they have been latched and feeding onto a dog for more than 10 hours. These diseases can include tick paralysis, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and encephalitis. Tick paralysis causes instance lameness, and the dog may be unable to move and seem to be stuck in a coma or sleep. Tick diseases may also cause gastrointestinal illnesses, impair immune function, cause inflammation in the body, and lead to severe and life threatening anemia.

Treatment Options

You've discovered a tick on your dog, and you need to remove it as soon as possible. However improper tick removal can lead to skin infections, pain, and exposure to tick diseases. If you have found a tick on your dog, follow these safe tick removal steps below.

Step 1:
Once you have located a tick, grab a pair of tweezers, and a container of alcohol. Do not remove the tick with your bare hands or you may be exposed to tick diseases. If you do not have a pair of tweezers, wear gloves or wrap your hands in tissue.

Step 2:
Gently grab the tick near the base of the head with the tweezers and gently but firmly pull the tick straight out. You will be able to feel some resistance, and then the tick should start backing out. Do not use oils or matches to try to get the tick out; these methods are ineffective and can actually cause the tick to go deeper into the dog's skin.

Step 3:
Place the tick in a container of alcohol to ensure that it dies; if you are worried about tick diseases, preserve the tick in alcohol so that your veterinarian can identify it.

Step 4:
Ticks like to congregate in the same places on your dog. Once you have removed one tick, there is more than likely another smaller one located in the same area. Check your dog over completely to ensure that you have removed all the ticks.

Step 5:
Gently wipe the area where the tick was with warm soapy water. You can place a small dab of antibiotic cream on the area if the skin looks inflamed or infected.

Periodically a tick will refuse to come out and you will end up breaking the tick at the neck. The tick's head will remain in the dog's skin, but this is okay. The dog's body will absorb the head over time; if you can see the head you may try to remove it like you would a splinter.

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